a three-year contract extension worth $4.7 million.
“I’ve been here since 1992, and there have been 45 coaching changes and I’m still here,” Green says. “I think I’m putting my stamp on this team. I’ve tried to make the players understand that my job is to make them better players, which would translate into a better team.”
Gilliam says he also thinks the NFL is making attempts to position more African Americans into decision-making positions in the league. “When I first entered the NFL in 1979 I was an assistant coach. There were only nine African American assistant coaches then. Now, 20 years later, there are many more,” Gilliam says.
Both Green and Gilliam have been a perfect fit for the Vikings. They are risk-takers and gambled big on players such as wide receiver Randy Moss and quarterback Randall Cunningham, two players that other teams shied away from, for various reasons, who turned out to have Pro Bowl caliber years for the Vikings. Since joining the Vikings, Green has led his team to the playoffs and to two NFC Division titles in six of his seven seasons at the helm. Green recognizes that it’s the cohesive workmanship shared by Gilliam and himself that has made the Vikings the team they are today.
“I believe the number of African American head coaches is going to increase in the NFL,” says Green. “But I think the key is not about being qualified, it’s about having equal access and equal opportunity to compete for the best.”
In 1987, the NFL introduced the Minority Coaching Fellowship Program, which provides an opportunity for minority participants to become working members of an NFL staff for a summer. Seventy-three African Americans took part in last summer’s program. Thirty of the participants have gone on to become current NFL assistant coaches over a 12-year span.
According to Northeastern’s 1997 Racial Report Card, 25% of the assistant coaches in the NFL are black. In the NBA, blacks held 34% of the assistant positions in the 1996-97 season and in Major League Baseball, 14% of the coaches were black. Green and Gilliam believe in their current positions they can usher in change by altering perceptions. “I’m where I am today because of the true pioneers and trailblazers that came before me in the 1950s and 1960s. I’ve benefited as a result of that and I’ve been at the forefront in the battle for equal opportunity in jobs that are available,” Green says.
ON THE PROWL
As a three-year-old franchise, the Jacksonville Jaguars exceeded even the highest expectations by succeeding in its infancy. The organization broke new ground by becoming the NFL’s only expansion team to qualify for the playoffs twice in its first three seasons.
A crucial part of the Jaguars’ success is one of its key behind-the-scenes players: Michael Huyghue (pronounced “hewg”), the 36-year-old senior vice president of football operations. In 1995 he was responsible for signing the team’s first rookie class collectively on the same day-a first in NFL history. In 1998, the team led the